Have you been anticipating a Gear Live 2 from Samsung running Android Wear? Well, we’re way past Google’s 2015 I/O Conference, so I think it’s safe to say that the Android Wear-powered Gear Live 2 is a no-show. With that said, however, I don’t think the Gear Live 2 was ever meant to be. I don’t think the Gear Live 2 was ever in the cards for Samsung, ever on the Korean giant’s “to make” list. To find out why, though, the key lies in Samsung’s latest smartwatch, the Tizen-powered Gear S2.
Let’s think back to the first-generation Gear Live. It ran Google’s Android Wear platform and had software homogenous with that of all other Android Wear smartwatches. Google’s desire to keep the software experience consistent and uniform is what led to Google’s wearables platform differentiating smartwatches by hardware, good looks, and price. Most Android Wear smartwatches had similar hardware and good looks but differing price tags. Samsung’s Gear Live was an excellent smartwatch from Samsung but it ran Android Wear, which took any software responsibilities from Samsung and placed them in the hands of Google.
For some, the Android Wear-powered Gear Live was the best way for a consumer to get Samsung in their hands with the software and app resources Android Wear provided. In addition, Samsung only made its Android smartphones compatible with its Gear smartwatch lineup, so a person buying the Gear S could only use a Samsung Android smartphone to sync their smartwatch and smartphone together. For Motorola, LG, HTC, Sony, Google, and other Android OEMs, the Gear Live was the only option from Samsung. After all, those smartphones needed a smartwatch that would play nice with Android – and the Gear Live was it.
Now, flash forward to 2015, and the Gear S2 is on the scene. Samsung has made the Gear S2 compatible with most Android smartphones within recent memory (stretching from Android 4.4 KitKat forward), removing the need for anyone to buy an Android Wear smartwatch to pair with their Android smartphone. No longer is the Tizen-powered Gear S2 restricted to Samsung smartphone owners only, bringing Samsung more sales as customers examine and conclude in their minds that the Gear S2 is the best smartwatch out there.
With the Gear S2 bringing its innovations in hardware, where’s the need for an Android Wear-powered Gear Live 2? There isn’t one. Whatever Samsung could or would do with it, the Korean giant still would have to take a “hands-off” approach with the software of the Gear Live 2 – leaving it to be just another smartwatch with a Samsung-manufactured shell.
And when it comes to the war on Android Wear, somehow, I think Samsung thought this through and concluded that the best way to stab Android Wear and Apple’s Watch OS in the heart is to offer cross-compatibility for both platforms. So, just as we’ve been hearing about diehard Android consumers buying the Gear S2 and pairing it with their Android smartphones, we’ve received word about iOS compatibility for the Gear S2 as well.
Finally, I want to ask the question: do we really need a Gear Live 2 when the Gear S2 features wireless charging, a rotating bezel, Rotary UI, interchangeable straps, 2-4-day battery life? Whatever the Gear Live 2 may have been, it wouldn’t have been as bold, as powerful, or as game-changing. Fortunately, the Gear Live 2 lives on as a concept that never came to be, while the Gear S2 is the “Gear Live 2,” the living Gear smartwatch we’ve all been waiting for.